Sunday, 16 October 2016

Reducing the Pile(s) Of Shame

Over the last week I've done a lot of work reducing my pile of shame. A pile that is actually four piles. It's more like a wall of shame. Heck, I could probably make a fort of shame at this point.

What is a pile of shame? That pile of games (and expansions) you own that you haven't actually played yet. The games that make you feel extra guilty buying new games because you have perfectly good games sitting right there waiting to be played but you are ignoring them for the new hotness or some good deal. The pile of games that makes you feel shame for buying them but not actually playing them. 

In an effort to feel less shameful and, with the ulterior motive of needing to learn some donated games before our Extra Life event I put together a special gaming event at my place last Monday: Thanksgaming.  We managed to get 6 games off the pile that night. I also bought a bunch of games off the pile to board game night at Brimstone Games last night and managed to knock another two games off the pile . Thanks to that I've reduced the pile of shame by a whopping 8 games in the last week.

Here's a short review of each of those games:

Lost Legacy: Flying Garden - Kindly donated by AEG for our Extra Life event this year. I'm not a huge fan of Love Letter and I'm wary of any games that are isotopes of Love Letter. This worry was misplaced in Lost Legacy. I don't know exactly what makes Lost Legacy better for us, but it just is. I love the investigation bit at the end. Do I try to keep a low card so I get to guess first? Do I make sure I know where the legacy is but have to worry that someone will guess it first?

Gameplay is pretty much the same as Love Letter. Start with a card in your hand. Each turn, draw a card and then play one card. Each card has an ability that goes off when played. Try to end the round with an advantageous game in your hand and not get elimited before that. The big change in Lost Legacy from Love Letter is at end of the round. Instead of the player with the highest card winning, players instead enter an investigation round. Starting with the lowest numbered card and going up, players need to declare where they think the Lost Legacy card is. If they are right, they win. If not, then it goes to the next player to guess. No one wins if the Lost Legacy is not found.

Lost Legacy: The Starship - Kindly donated by AEG for Extra Life. I knew there was more than one Lost Legacy game but didn't realize how different each was. The cards and card abilities are very different in Starship from Garden. This is rather cool. I also really dig the way you can mix and match. Between the two The Starship is much more take that with a lot more abilities that affect other players hands.With this series of games you also have the option of combining two decks. All you need to do is remove one of the two Lost Legacy Cards. This also allows the game to be played with up to eight players. I haven't actually tried this but plan on it during Extra Life.

Tiffin - Kindly donated by Rio Grande Games for Extra Life. This was a very solid card based area control game with a cool theme. Each player represents a company helping to deliver lunch Tiffins in Mumbai. Each turn players either add a Tiffin cube to a new route or play cards to a add cubes to an already started route. When routes are completed players get points based on their contributions and points for having Tiffins on the routes. Player get new cards by drafting from a face up row Ticket to Ride style. There is also a take that element where each player has a flat tire and shortcut card they can use to modify the length of a route. To keep things interesting there is also a ghost player, The Competitor, that will add neutral cubes to routes when triggered by player card play. I really dug the theme on this one, which somehow comes through even though it's really an abstract card driven cube pusher.

Dark Seas - Kindly donated by AEG for Extra Life. This pirate themed game was way more fun than I expected. I've seen it deeply discounted online and just assumed based on that, that it wasn't very good. I was wrong. Dark Seas is a unique tile playing game where each player builds his own set of pirate islands. The really neat bit in this game is that each turn the start player rolls a set of dice (with one possible re-roll) to determine which actions are available that turn. Once determined, every player is stuck with that specific set of dice results for the entire round. Actions include discarding tiles from your hand that match a die rolled this round to get resources and moving your pirate ship around your island. As your ship stops at each port it activates the tiles attached to it. At the end of the round you can add a tile to the port your ship is at. Your Captain can be used to get new tiles or assist in getting your ship around the island. Through all this players are collecting money, pirates and treasure tokens. Pirates are placed on your port and usually enhance the attached tiles (with things like get 1 coin for each pirate). Money is used to upgrade Pirates to Dread Pirates which are worth more points and for end of game scoring. Players try to complete sets of treasure tokens with four of a kind being worth the most points.

Overall the game is a quick to teach, humorous take on a set collection and area control game with a very cool mechanic I've never seen before.

Greedy Greedy Goblins - Kindly donated by AEG for Extra Life. This game is frantic, hilarious fun! Another surprise hit from AEG. Greedy Greedy Goblins is a real time set collection games with some of the nicest tiles I've ever seen in a board game. Each turn players simultaneously grab tiles from the center of the table and place them onto various mine cards. At any point instead of placing a tile a player can place one of their goblin tokens on a mine to claim it. At that point no one can add more tiles to the mine. Once everyone has placed their goblin tokens you start figuring out exactly what was in each mine. Gems are worth points. Monsters eat gems. Minions give you special cards that can modify a mine's final score. Torches reveal one other tile in the mine during tile placement. The last tile type is dynamite. Reveal 1 dynamite and the mine score is doubled. Reveal 2 and the mine score is Tripled! Reveal 3 or more dynamite and the mine collapses and kills your goblin (you get nothing from the mine and also have to pay 5 points to the bank to hire a new goblin). Minion cards break the rules in various ways and each player gets bonus points on a specific type of gem. You can expect to see this one out at many WGR events.  

Rails of New England - Kindly donated by Rio Grande Games for Extra Life. This was the most intimidating game of Thanksgaming. Explaining this game was not fun. A lot of that had to do with how horrible the rule book is. I've not seen a rulebook this bad in years. There are a ton of components that come in the box that aren't even referenced in the rules and aren't even listed on the component list. I had to go on to figure out what some of the stuff was. During the game we also had to google rule clarifications multiple times. This is near unforgivable. The thing is: the game was really good.

I don't think I can call Rails of New England a "Train Game", despite the name. It's a lot more like Power Grid than say 1830 or Empire Builder or Martian Rails. It's an economic game about owning businesses in New England and dealing with a changing economy and a slew of interesting events affecting the area including snow, floods and fires. The rail part only comes in when you build depots which give you bonus income for business that are "connected," meaning that there is a depot in the city the business is located in and one in the three major delivery cities of New York, Boston or Montreal. Along with building business there are government subsidies that can be claimed, mail routes to complate and, historic rail routes that can be claimed for having depots in specific sets of cities.

This is a big, chunky Euro with a lot going on. Far too much to really get into here. Overall it seems excellent but I've never seen a game screaming for a second printing so badly. An updated map with a better font, a re-written rulebook, business cards that give you some hint as to where they are located on the map and tokens for marking where the events are taking place would all greatly improve the game. If you ever pick this one up make sure you go to BGG and find the FAQ and the much improved rulebook.

Luna - I'm a huge Stefan Feld game and Luna has been on my wishlist for quite some time. I was very excited that TMG has finally gotten it back in print. I really dig the theme in Luna. Each player is the head of a druidic order attempting to collect influence in order to become the next Moon Priestess. As typical of Feld, this is a point salad with many ways to earn influence (points). The gameplay is a pretty unique worker placement system where players move initiates to various islands circling a main temple. Removing workers from an island lets you use that islands unique ability. Abilities include sending initiates to the main temple, moving between islands, building shrines and more. Overall Luna is rather light for a Feld point salad which is quite refreshing. The game is fairly easy to teach, rather quick to play and looks pretty cool set up on the table.

Dice City - wow this game takes up a lot of room. The player boards are the same size as the main boards in some other games and each player needs one. In addition there is a card drafting area required with full sized cards. So think of playing Dominion with four other board games on the table at the same time.

Assuming you have the space, Dice City is a very cool game. Each player board has a 5x6 grid of action spaces. Each row is tied to a colour of a D6 and each column a number on a D6. Each round players roll 5 dice, one of each colour and place them on their board BINGO style. They then spend the dice to activate locations. Most locations give resources but some give army points or victory points. Army points can be used to attack barbarians for points or to attack other players disabling their buildings of stealing resources. After any attacks, players spend resources to build new buildings from the card supply or fulfill trade contracts. Buildings replace locations that are on the players boards. Gameplay involves rolling your dice, placing them on your board, spending them to get stuff to either improve your board or earn points. It's all very elegant.

So how big is your Pile Of Shame? What games have you gotten off of it recently? What game is gong to be played next?